The Peer-to-Peer Economy is an exciting thing. There was a time when paying someone else for an item or service was easy to do, back when our society and commerce were largely driven by cash. Something cost $20, you had $20 in your wallet, and you paid for it – very simple. This was the preferred means of commerce for smaller, in-person transactions, and cash has always been an appealing and convenient vehicle.
Then we all started carrying credit cards. Some businesses were slow to adapt – and occasionally one still stumbles across a small store somewhere that accepts only cash – but generally speaking, we now have the option to pay for nearly everything we need by credit card. At least, when we’re dealing with retail businesses that have physical locations.
Retail businesses with physical locations are changing, though. While it may be premature to say they’re ‘dying’, there’s little debate about the impact the mobile and online economy has had on many small local businesses. The communication era has brought us amazing advances, like the ability to conduct business from home, or other remote locations. We’re increasingly a telecommuter society where folks work from locations that may not be offices, buy things from devices that may not be computers (at least in the traditional sense that we’ve known them), and leave their home with little more than a mobile phone and a set of keys in their pocket. The bulging, overstuffed wallet that George Costanza carried in Seinfeld is a relic (although, full disclosure, I can’t quite let go of mine).
Cash is, after all, a risky thing when you think about it. You can lose it. You can have it stolen. You can be attacked for it. In many ways, cash makes you a target, and carrying around large amounts might not always be a great idea. It’s also not easy to get back – if you pay for something in cash, especially if it’s not to a reputable storefront business, you’re unlikely to ever see that cash again if you wind up dissatisfied for the good or service you purchased.
With technology like Apple Pay, Square Reader, Google Wallet, and PayPal, it’s now incredibly easy and convenient to pay someone money – more specifically, to pay other individuals for goods and services, in varying increments, without all the risks associated with cash and without the cost/administrative overhead associated with traditional credit card processing. What does all this mean? It means we’re moving rapidly towards a Peer-to-Peer Economy.
Look at Uber. A private individual can come pick you up and give you a ride somewhere, for a reasonable rate. Would Uber ever have been possible without simplified peer-to-peer payment options? Would you want to pick up a stranger, as an Uber driver, having them think you are loaded with cash from the last few people you drove somewhere? What about Task Rabbit – would that model work if it were cash-based or required folks performing occasional $20 tasks to get set up with complicated and costly credit card processing merchant accounts?
Square was really a huge step right before the huge leap. Their idea was great – give anyone who wants one a Square reader for free that they can plug into their mobile phone, and let them accept credit card payments on the spot. A tempting proposition, even for folks not traditionally included to be selling goods – after all, how can your buddy who stiffed you that $30 on the last beer tab avoid paying you back now?
“Sorry, man, I don’t have cash on me, I only have my credit card, I’ll catch you next time”, he says. And then you pull out your Square Reader and collect your money on the spot – Game, Set, and Match.
One thing is for certain – there are many, many more massive business opportunities just waiting for someone to harness the power of the crowd in unique ways that require small, non-cash payments to be made. Just think of the sorts of things you might normally prefer to interact directly with a real person…things that may be overpriced when there is a company in between you and the person you’re working with, but not so much when you can directly find and pay someone personally.
What other opportunities are out there, for businesses built on the backs of Peer-to-Peer payment – businesses that otherwise would not have been viable before this big leap? And who’s going to help you develop solutions to leverage this and become the next big Uber, so you can be the next Peer-to-Peer Millionaire?
Did you guess that I might say us? SDSol Technologies offers an experienced team that can help you create cutting edge mobile software solutions that can integrate with peer-to-peer payment solutions. We can also build the platforms you need to connect your future customers with their future service providers. Contact us to find out more